I just got this from my boss a couple of days ago. I wasn't quite sure exactly what you were looking for, but I tried to answer the questions that were posed on the link I received from the website.
To give you a little preamble first, I'm the director of training for Canada and a representative of the United Association in Canada. I represent 56,000 members, including 10,000 apprentices in the piping trades. That's plumbers, pipefitters, welders, sprinkler fitters, refrigeration mechanics, and all that. Our organization represents 340,000 members total, including in the U.S., and we have been in operation since 1889 as an organization. We are the largest private training organization in North America outside both U.S. and Canadian militaries. Our annual budget is around $270 million a year. That's paid for by our membership.
What in my background qualifies me to speak to you today? I have about 40 years in the trades, multiple certifications and training completed, and involvement at every level of training for youth in apprenticeship and technical careers. I will speak to you on some of the points you outlined. Again, this was short notice for me; I wasn't quite sure what you were looking for, so I didn't do anything formal.
With respect to youth underemployment after completing their education, the different organizations that collect information on youth and trades and apprenticeship in Canada have told us that the age of apprentices gets higher every year, with some as old as 29 just starting in their career as a tradesperson. They usually have several courses already completed, with some of them obtaining certificates in business or education. We get apprentices all the time who have multiple certifications from universities and colleges. They spent their youth learning something that they did not consider wisely: it either did not have a job or career waiting for them or it was based on personal interest and not economics.
These are choices that must be made early in life. Youth must have direction early to avoid these types of mistakes. Many times the advice they get on career choices does not include trades, apprenticeships, or technical careers because of the traditional push for higher education. That has not changed in many years, or since I've been around, anyway. It leads to many highly educated people who have no work opportunity or career to follow. They are left with large debt loads to repay.
With respect to youth unemployment and how it harms the transition to the workforce, there are projected to be over 500,000 positions available for trades workers in Canada in the next five to 10 years, with huge numbers of highly skilled tradespeople retiring. The immigration department is working overtime to find out how they will process all the people they are planning to bring into Canada to fill this shortfall, and how they will find and assess the right skilled workers to fill these positions.
Government policy has a huge effect on apprenticeships and youth with the cancellation of, for example, the TransCanada east-west pipeline. This will result in hundreds of apprentices not being able to complete their terms. With the resulting unemployment, they will probably turn to another form of work to make ends meets. Our industry must always plan tentatively when the political will of the country arbitrarily cancels megaprojects like the east-west pipeline and the LNG plant in British Columbia. There's a huge list of these projects that come and go. This creates issues for companies, construction workers, and architects alike when planning their future, which is based on that economic reality.
With respect to volunteerism and internships and how they inform work decisions for students, volunteering in any form is a great way for youth to see how the world has treated others—especially those who have lost their health, fallen on hard times, or so on. I can't say enough about that. Internships with companies and organizations are a great thing as well, and give students and workers a great perspective. However, when it comes to trades and technology students, many times the interns are free or much cheaper than an apprentice who is trying to start their career. These apprentices end up either not completing their apprenticeship or must leave their community to find work elsewhere to be successful. This is especially problematic when many training centres and colleges are completing large numbers of trainees. I'll use Ontario and British Columbia especially as examples. On the surface it's a great idea for some fields of work, but it's not a great thing for the trades or technical workers.
The fourth area is the school-to-work transition strategy in Canada compared with international models and programs. The international models used in Germany, Norway, and Ireland are examples of the European way of preparing youth for a future in the world. We studied why their system has a much younger component in the trades and technology fields especially, with a very young age for apprentices compared to the Canadian workplace. I was in Dublin last year to meet with the government, union, and industry representatives in Ireland, with a delegation from our industry. This included a representative from the Red Seal secretariat. We saw their method of getting young people involved with their credit system that awards credit for all schooling toward higher education, something that is lacking here in Canada.
Germany has a system where their high schools have apprenticeship credits that go toward their future in the trades or technology sectors if that is where they want to go. They are directed to pick a stream-of-work opportunity before they ever leave school, and can change if needed but take their credit with them toward another field of work. This translates to mobility across the European Union for workers, where in Canada we have no recognition, which stops workers from going to another province, let alone another country. Our system must evolve in the way it does things to catch up to the systems used internationally.
There are too many government regulators involved in apprenticeship, with a system in which every province has autonomy and does its own thing without the full opinions of the industry being considered. The best model for apprenticeship includes a tripartite approach with government including specialists in apprenticeship; worker groups including union and non-union in an equal mix; and industry, including clients, owners, and contractors, whose futures are at stake when projects don't go right and whose costs escalate because they don't have people with the right skills for the job. We all have a vested interest in the success of a project and must work together to get the right skills.
The model for training in apprenticeship is proven and has mostly not changed since the code of Hammurabi defined the first master-servant working relationship that was apprenticeship in 2500 B.C. The people who define how it is regulated and who decide what is to be taught and who pays have changed greatly, and in my experience, if things are done in a correct balance, in which all of the parties listen to each other and everyone has a real say in the final product, then you will get a great product at the end.
In many areas, government regulates completely and industry or worker groups are consulted intermittently. This must change for a functional and progressive apprenticeship system to happen and for the future of the country.
With regard to co-op programs and work-integrated learning, any form of hands-on program that does not send apprentices or technicians into the real world for hands-on skills and then bring them back again to increase their knowledge is not going to be successful in our workplaces. The model of apprenticeship that has worked for us at UA Canada for over 125 years is training with work experience, with more training, with more work experience, and so on. The model we have been using for so long defines our workforce and it is the same model that is used by doctors and other people in the health field.
Working under a skilled tradesperson in the field is where over 80% of the knowledge transfer happens for the apprentice. Work-integrated learning sounds very much like apprenticeship; however, when there is no master technician, tradesperson, doctor, or other certified person overseeing the work and making corrections, coaching, passing on their knowledge of how to complete the work successfully and productively, it fails in its approach.
UA Canada is embarking on a new system for learning that will use augmented virtual mixed realities to teach people anywhere in the world in our fields of expertise, and this will be blended with other technologies, like online e-learning, self-paced, traditional classroom, and many other methods of getting the learning across. However, we will not abandon the principle of having a qualified journey person, technician, or master skilled worker mentoring the worker, overseeing their education in the field, and giving them the benefit of years of experience in their field of expertise. This key principle has worked for thousands of years and cannot be replaced with technology, not yet anyway.
Entrepreneurship is something we are a big believer in for our people. Many of our very largest contractors started out in their field of work as tradespeople or other forms of workers. They learned on the job, completed further training with the UA or with other institutions, and went on to become very successful in their industry. It is a process that should be encouraged at all levels, throughout all programs, as part of the training every trades and technical student receives.
That's it. I don't know if that really fit with what you were looking for. I wasn't quite sure.
Mr. Chair, distinguished committee members, thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce what we see as the DNA of the Université de Sherbrooke, its co-operative education program.
I would especially like to thank the Hon. Steven Blaney for inviting me. Mr. Blaney obtained a degree in civil engineering from our university in 1988.
In 1966, the Université de Sherbrooke became the first Quebec university, and the second university in Canada, after Waterloo, to make co-operative education its trademark. Fifty-two years later, almost 5,000 students per year gain paid work experience in a company in Canada or elsewhere in the world. Thanks to our co-operative internships, students at our university in certain programs finish their studies with almost two years of experience to their credit.
The total amount of the salaries paid to those students exceeds $36 million per year. The concept of co-operative education was invented in 1906 by Professor Herman Schneider, in the faculty of engineering at the University of Cincinnati.
The concept was founded on the two following observations. First, each profession has characteristics that can only be learned by practical work experience in that profession. Second, most students have to take a part-time job during their studies in order to pay for their needs.
Professor Schneider therefore conceived of a system that would allow students to practice their future careers as they earned income from their work. Under his direction, the engineering program at Cincinnati developed a school year in which periods in the classroom alternated with periods at work. It is important to emphasize that the responsibility to find work in the students' fields of study rests with the university, with the institution.
Co-operative education was therefore born from the collaboration between teaching institutions and the workplace. At the moment, the Université de Sherbrooke offers 48 programs with the co-operative structure. While engineering programs were the first, programs in administration, science, law and arts quickly followed.
The universities and colleges in Canada that offer these programs come together in a national association. It is responsible for granting accreditation in the Canadian co-operative model. At its annual meeting last November, the association broadened its mandate to become Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada, or CEWIL Canada. The name change was necessary because of a number of Canadian initiatives to include other forms of integrated work experiences. The objective is clear: to make sure that those initiatives have standards as rigorous as those in co-operative internships.
This opening up of our association's mandate coincides with an announcement from the Minister of Employment, Workforce, and Labour, . In fact, last summer, the minister announced a program creating 10,000 new practical internships for students over the next five years. The initiative also seeks to establish lasting partnerships between industry and post-secondary education institutions.
I have to mention that we are contemplating the deployment of this program with some apprehension. In fact, the discussions we have had with our partners reveal a very clear under-representation of Quebec in the consortia that bring together employers and universities. We can already state that access to the funds will be difficult for SMEs in Quebec. So I would like to use this platform provided to me today to ask for your support, so that the funds will be distributed equitably in all regions of the country. I would also venture a suggestion: because of its enormous experience, our association could make its expertise available to those programs in order to ensure their success. I know that communication channels are currently open. The authorities involved just have to accept our offer.
I would now like to briefly mention an initiative of the Université de Sherbrooke that is designed to encourage new Canadians to take their place in co-operative programs and the labour market. National statistics and our own practice demonstrate the major difficulty that graduates from certain cultural communities have in getting into the labour market, even despite a labour shortage. This observation led us, in collaboration with various services and faculties, to develop a program to help international students better understand the labour market in Quebec and Canada. This initiative provides participants with training on the labour market and its history, as well as on its main rules and customs.
The training deals with job interviews, resumés and covering letters. Then, students in the program receive personal coaching from employment counsellors who are specially assigned for the purpose. They help them, prepare them for interviews and provide feedback. With this program, we are wagering that integrating the students will be easier and their performance in the employment process will be better.
By way of conclusion, I would like to leave you with the following message.
The history of co-operative education in Canada proves that it is a productive road to the labour market. Not only do the students who take that road have greater success in their school programs, but their integration into the labour market is also easier. Our internal statistics show that more than 50% of the students who were part of a co-op program find employment with the company for which they have done an internship.
Reciprocally, companies are turning more and more to those programs in order to hire their new employees. The companies have understood that welcoming a co-op intern is a productive way to fill both a temporary need and a staffing requirement over the long term.
Two challenges facing the Canadian economy are the labour shortage and the development of skills. Initiatives like the student work-integrated learning program and Mitacs are intended to meet those challenges. Canada can count on very skilled resources who are ready to do what is necessary to make those initiatives a success. A service like mine and an association like CEWIL Canada have expertise that is recognized around the world and we are ready to put that expertise at Canada's disposal. All that remains is for you to make appropriate use of us.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce you to our expertise. We look forward to being able to participate in the development of our wonderful country.
Thank you to the committee for inviting Boys and Girls Club to present as part of this important study.
Although I'm the executive director in Ottawa, I'm actually here on behalf of Boys and Girls Clubs across the country. Normally, you would be hearing from my lovely director of public policy, Rachel Gouin, but she's not available, so I'm the pinch-hitter. I hope you'll bear with me.
We're here to share what the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada are doing in terms of supporting experiential learning and shining a light on the pathways to employment for youth. For those of you who aren't familiar with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, we're a national charity. We serve about 210,000 members across the country in 625 locations. Here in Ottawa, we have about 4,500 youth who are members. We have seven locations, including a large summer camp just outside Ottawa.
Typically across the country you will find us located in vulnerable, at-risk neighbourhoods, so the kids we see are typically from low-income families. We see lots and lots of new Canadians, indigenous youth, and many others. We find that these kids have less social capital and they need extra help to finish high school, pursue post-secondary education, and make what is for many of them that difficult transition to employment. This is not because they are in any way less talented. Our kids live in impoverished conditions and they experience difficult social environments. They don't have access to the same networks and leadership and learning opportunities that their more privileged peers do. Our programs at the Boys and Girls Clubs remedy this disadvantage and ensure that youth reach their potential.
Today I'd like to draw your attention to two programs that help youth gain knowledge and experience that they need to make decisions about their future and successfully transition into and be able to keep a job. They are the Employment and Social Development skills link program and the Canada summer jobs program.
First, through the skills link program and in partnership with the private sector partner Kal Tire, 30 Boys and Girls Clubs across the country will introduce 600 youths to the skilled trades this year. Youths are able to learn about the different trades, actually meet tradespeople in their community, and then job shadow those same tradespeople.
Last year we leveraged this great partnership with the Canadian government to secure additional private sector funding from Cara Operations, so we just started a hospitality-focused Skilled4Success training program and job placement pilot in 10 communities across Ottawa. I have to say that in Ottawa, we are very lucky. We are one of the 10 pilot sites, and this program has already started. The youth are incredibly excited about it. They've already had significant numbers of job shadowing opportunities. Our private sector partner Cara Operations is also very happy with this program, because they believe that they will be able to place many of the youth who are in this program. This is just the kind of program that our youth need, and we are very grateful for the government's support.
The second program I'd like to highlight today, which is near and dear to my heart, is the Canada summer jobs program. This is the most significant federal program for Boys and Girls Clubs across the country. We are very pleased that the government saw fit to double this program recently. In 2017, the clubs across Canada hired 660 high school, college, and university students up from, in 2013, only 192 students, so that's a very significant improvement for us.
One thing we've noticed about this program, though, is that the number of weeks allocated doesn't often meet the needs of our youth. Eight weeks of employment works very well for high school students, but with students attending college and university, with the ever-increasing tuition costs, this is very difficult. They need to work for the 16 weeks that they are off in the summer. As well, I can speak from experience, having had many Canada summer jobs students, when I say that the eight weeks fly by very quickly, and students would gain a better employment experience and exposure to a lot more parts of work if there were a greater number of weeks. We would ask that the government take this into consideration as it reviews the program.
We also believe the Canada summer jobs program could be improved by opening it up to youth who are not full-time students. Preparing for this presentation made me think of a lovely young woman who's a staff person at one of our clubs in Ottawa. She was a Syrian refugee who came to Canada about six years ago, ahead of the most recent influx. She didn't speak any English. It was through sheer will and determination that she finished high school and has gone on just recently—I guess she's in her second year now—to Algonquin College. Her parents have been unable to learn enough English to be employed, and her younger brother is disabled. Therefore, this young woman is the primary breadwinner for her family. It's just not possible for her to work full time. Therefore she is not eligible for the Canada summer jobs program.
She's not alone. We see this with a lot of our kids, a lot of the low-income and newcomer youths are disqualified from the Canada summer jobs program because they're not full-time students. They just can't afford to go to school full time because they have to work as well.
We would like all youths to benefit regardless of their student status.
Again, thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this study. I look forward to any questions you might have.
Good afternoon, all. Thank you for this honour.
We've been working with youth for the past 14 years. We started out as foster parents initially, and based on the gaps in services and the different things that we saw were needed, we created the Pathfinder Youth Centre Society. It is a non-profit charitable organization that works with at-risk youth, youth in care with the ministry, and youth with different cognitive disabilities.
We then branched out to working with Community Living British Columbia, CLBC, which is an organization that funds individuals who have an IQ of lower than 70 and, obviously, a lot of mental challenges. Some of them are in their fifties or sixties chronologically, but they're basically 10 to 18 years of age. That's the demographic we've dealt with, and we're noticing with the programs we run that there's a large increase in that population.
We service Vancouver, obviously, and the Lower Mainland, and we have an office, or a centre, in Maple Ridge. It's good to see a familiar face from Maple Ridge here. We also service Surrey, where our second location is.
The body of our discussion will be based on the youth who we've worked with and their journey. The challenges we face are the multiple barriers for youth, as well as dual diagnosis, and the most common disabilities we face with a lot of the intakes that we do are anxiety, depression, and the autism spectrum. Also, we see a lot of drug-entrenched and street-entrenched youth. These challenges raise concerns for future vocational success, as do mental health issues, and it's essential that they get service in terms of searching for, obtaining, and retaining meaningful employment.
With so many youth suffering with mental health problems, it hinders them from being able to develop the social skills required in the workforce, such as interpersonal skills, group work, and confidence in their own abilities. This is a huge societal problem that's going to affect our future generation of workers and will have a negative impact on the economy in terms of high turnover rates, increased medical costs, and shortages of able workers. Statistics show that if a youth or individual is under the autism spectrum, the cost to society and the system is about $2.4 million over the lifespan of that individual. There's a strong need to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness and increase the accessibility of services so these youth can feel safe in expressing themselves and can seek help without fear of isolation and rejection.
Tackling mental health awareness is a preventative tool that will lead to the overall future success and quality of life for our youth. Many of our youth are not getting proper assessments, which in turn poses a problem with placing them in jobs and sets them up for failure. Some of the solutions that we've been able to realize, for example, are customized programs for youth based on their skill sets and abilities.
For example, we have been working for about four years with a young man who came to our program. He's in the autism spectrum, so that means isolation, anxiety, and things of that nature. Through informal training and customized programs, we were able to transition him from working in our office doing vacuuming. Through encouragement and supports, and just through him taking ownership of a job and getting self-confidence, he transitioned into a local community college. Based on a lot of that informal training that we were able to assist him with, he's flourishing right now. In that program they provide, he's able to do a lot of job shadowing. Because of the informal training that we were able to give him previous to him going there, he was able to get that self-confidence and to get the support and overcome the anxiety, and now, as I said, he's flourishing.
Also, we have solutions that provide consistent support and mentorship. We have a 24-7 hotline, as we call it, for youth who are in crisis or who have any type of issues. They can contact us, and there's that support for them. Also, we increase the confidence and self-esteem, which I alluded to earlier, through strong relationship-building by our teams throughout our organizations. It's very consistent, with everyone on the same page in terms of encouragement and assisting with improving youths' self-esteem and confidence in themselves.
We also like to focus on their abilities rather than the disabilities. Our programs are tailor-made that way. In some cases, proper assessment and medication will definitely assist to get these results. Continual life skills and employment programs, which we have at Pathfinder—we'll get into that later on—also involve community partners. We've had the blessing of being able to connect with a lot of restaurants, hotels, and businesses in the community that assist us with our youth.
For example, we've connected with an organization called the Wrap Around team. This organization consists of RCMP officers whose role is to identify individuals who are marginalized or who have disabilities, whether they be mental health disabilities or any type of barriers. We work as a cohesive team and unit to assist individuals with transitioning from that situation they're in, and then we involve them in our job-training programs. School counsellors, mental health workers, probation officers, and the ministry of children and families are some stakeholders and key team players that we bring on board to provide these holistic programs.
Also, we believe that taking the time to figure out what the challenges are—investing the time—will help them in the long run. Sometimes the employment issue is not about employment itself, but about the life skills and about learning to cope with the daily challenges. Having someone there to support them from the sidelines is crucial.
In terms of employment solutions, as I alluded to earlier, we've created in-house jobs for some of our youth. Also, we've partnered with employers in the community, partners who understand some of the disabilities that we're dealing with. We advocate strongly for them.
One of our programs or projects that we're going to be launching shortly is a thrift store. This is near and dear to our hearts, the reason being that it's a one-stop shop where our youth will have the ability to learn in a controlled environment. Keep in mind that we're dealing with anxiety and all these other issues. There, they'll have the ability to learn from friendly individuals first, in a safe environment. They're learning the basics of retail sales. They're overcoming their anxieties. We have that opportunity in real time to correct, to teach, to nurture, and to assist them with getting past the anxieties. If we identify that they need more supports, we can deal with that in-house before we send them out into the community to go out and work, where sometimes, as we all know, they may fail.
I'm going to have Ruth discuss that particular project a bit.
I'll make it really quick.
Most of our programs are skills development programs funded by HRDC. This has the same components. We want to tailor it to mimic the Service Canada programs that we have now. It's six weeks of life skills training in-house with certifications. We usually have 13 weeks of work experience where we send them off into the community to employers, but for this one we'd like to keep them in-house for five weeks, work out all the kinks and what makes them nervous, and allow them to feel secure in their environment so the message can penetrate into not just their minds but their souls and so their confidence level increases.
We want to lead by example. We want to implement all the knowledge they have and the theory they've learned and put it into play through practice.
After those five weeks, we set them free, and they go into the workforce and to employers with which we currently work, with Cineplex being one of our greatest advocates. They are so amazing. They give the youth an opportunity, and they understand the level of anxiety and depression that all these guys are working with.
Currently in our employment programs, our success rate is about 80% to 85%. There's nothing new about what we do as a family here. It's all about bringing it back to basics, bringing it back to simplicity, and bringing it back to love.
It is an honour for me to speak today.
Thanks to all of you.
I would say that in many ways you are shaping Canada's future, whether it's helping the young who are far from the labour market or people with skills who want to get a job and, let's say, work on a pipeline. I'll say that from this side.
I would like to go back to what you said, Mr. Tremblay, because your words certainly touched me. The Université de Sherbrooke is indeed my alma mater. Going to Sherbrooke to study engineering was one of the good decisions I have made in my life. Unfortunately, thereafter, I became involved in politics, but that is another story.
You talked about 10,000 practical internships. You praised 's initiative in announcing those 10,000 practical internships. However, you told us about your concerns in two areas, one of which is the fact that Quebec is not represented.
Can you tell us how we can make sure that the program is a success in Quebec? If so, is there French wording, a French name?
Those are the two questions I would like to ask; I would like to hear your comments on them.
Yes, that definitely is a problem. We see some of those kids at the Boys and Girls Club. We work very closely with those youth to get them through high school.
For some of them, it's just so challenging because of language, for example, a lot of the Syrian refugees. The younger kids who are in grades 1 and 2 are going to be fine, but when those kids who are coming are in grades 9 and 10, that's a lot more difficult. Trying to help that group finish school is quite challenging.
One of the things we hoped for at the Boys and Girls Club was that eventually there would be some kind of federal program, in addition to Canada summer jobs, that would help support those kids who maybe aren't in education and aren't employed, and give them some kind of employment experience that hopefully would light a spark or help them find something they're good at.
I love what everybody on the panel said, because I think it's true. Experiential learning and finding out what lights a fire under these kids is really going to help them to be successful. If you believe what the former governor of the Bank of Canada, Mark Carney, said, we have a productivity problem in Canada. I often say to donors, don't do it for our kids; do it for your kids. There are a lot of kids out there who are struggling to even finish high school and then go on to post-secondary. If we let that whole generation slide into unemployment, it will hurt the country as a whole.
On that point, funding always seems to be the issue and the government is constantly being challenged, a lot from the opposition, to balance the budget. The face of balancing the budget is some of the people you represent.
We look at it differently. These are investments in the future because if we miss the people, especially Orville Lee, Ruth Lee, and Colleen Mooney, then there's a substantive cost.
Our government has doubled the Canada summer jobs program. We have put significant new money into the whole skills suite of programs that the federal government does. But we recognize there are still more challenges. We did not cut those programs; they were cut by the former administration.
You represent a group that I very much lobby for. An issue I think you should be aware of is, on some replacement jobs Service Canada will reach out to the MP's office and discuss with the MP the length of the student placement, so if they have a need for longer they should be interacting with the MP's office to pass that on.
Mr. Lee, you referenced a customized program, taking somebody through who's now a success. What was the cost of that success for the student you identified?